BEIJING—Japan and the Philippines teamed up at a regional security forum this week to attack China over the disputed South China Sea, China’s foreign ministry said, as details emerged of sometimes testy exchanges during the talks in Malaysia.
In a statement released around midnight on Thursday, the ministry cited Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi as telling the East Asia Summit on Thursday that Beijing was not impeding freedom of navigation in the contested waterway.
US Secretary of State John Kerry told the forum that China was restricting navigation and overflights. Kerry also said China’s construction of facilities for “military purposes” on artificial islands in the South China Sea was raising tensions and risked “militarization” by other claimant states.
China claims most of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in shipborne trade passes every year. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei also have overlapping claims.
The Chinese statement made no mention of Kerry or his criticism at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) meetings in Kuala Lumpur, where discussion was dominated by China’s creation of seven artificial islands in the Spratly archipelago on the Philippine side of the South China Sea.